SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

No handshake for Jaya
Cong turns down Jaya’s advances
Says bond with DMK long lasting
New Delhi, February 20
The Congress party has declined AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s advances, saying that it preferred to stand by its present Tamil Nadu ally, the DMK.

Madras HC Violence
Lawyers hit TN streets, want DGP suspended

Chennai, February 20
Lawyers throughout Tamil Nadu today hit streets with protest demonstrations, rallies and court boycotts demanding the suspension of police officials, including the DGP and Chennai police commissioner, for entering the Madras High Court and brutally attacking lawyers.

Terror attack? No, lawyers at work

The burnt-out and damaged motorbikes at the high court police station in Chennai on Friday.

The burnt-out and damaged motorbikes at the high court police station in Chennai on Friday. Scores of vehicles had been set on fire by lawyers yesterday. — Reuters





EARLIER STORIES

Former Indian cricket captain and honorary Lieut Col in the Territorial Army Kapil Dev takes part in an introductory military training course in New Delhi on Friday.
Former Indian cricket captain and honorary Lieut Col in the Territorial Army Kapil Dev takes part in an introductory military training course in New Delhi on Friday. — AFP
India flays Pak denial on Masood Azhar
New Delhi, February 20
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee tonight hit out at Islamabad for denying the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar in Pakistan, who was very much there until recently.

Row over promotion of ASC officers
Chandigarh, February 20
Promotion of officers in the Army Service Corps (ASC) has kicked up a controversy. The results of the Selection Board from Colonel to Brigadier have been held up for several months as a “debarred” officer was not only empanelled for consideration by the board, but also approved for promotion.

Key posts: Govt goes headhunting
New Delhi, February 20
With three months to go before it demits office, the UPA government is currently engaged in a frantic talent search for filling top official posts slated to fall vacant in the coming weeks.

PMO bills run into trouble
New Delhi, February 20
The government is in for major embarrassment, with two of its proposed legislations --- the SC/ST Reservation in Posts and Services Bill 2008 and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill --- running into rough weathers.

Manipur Killings
DC, SP suspended for ‘dereliction’ of duty
Guwahati, February 20
Situation in curfew-bound Imphal and other parts of Manipur remained tense for the third consecutive day today in view of raging mass protest over killings of three government employees, including a sub-divisional officer (SDO) by unidentified assailants.

Mulayam rules out truck with BJP
Lucknow, February 20
Refuting the charges that the Samajwadi Party (SP) general secretary Amar Singh was not capable of winning even a pradhan-level election, party president Mulayam Singh Yadav today declared that while Singh was keen to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, he was not in favour of it.

Residents protest over child’s murder
Jaipur, February 20
Sikar town observed a complete bandh today in protest against the murder of a four-year-old boy whose body was found in a sewage drain late last evening. A different group of protesters hurled stones at the police in number of places forcing cops to retaliate with mild lathicharge.

Veteran journalist Amita Malik dead
New Delhi, February 20
Veteran journalist and film and media critic Amita Malik died in New Delhi on Friday. She was 86.

SC no to tabling of Godhra report in Parliament
New Delhi, February 20
The Centre today approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to table in Parliament the Justice UC Banerjee Committee report on Godhra fire, but the apex court directed the Gujarat High Court to dispose of a similar plea pending with it in six weeks.

SC tells Rajastahan
Close down illegal mines in Aravallis
New Delhi, February 20
The Supreme Court today directed the Rajasthan government to act on the report of the Forest and Environment Ministry on illegal mining in the Aravalli Hills and close down all such mines. The state government has also been told to file a compliance report within three weeks.

Media panel condemns attacks on journalists
New Delhi, February 20
The South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) has said it is saddened at the killing of a Tamil journalist, Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy, who was working for Canadian Tamil Radio, Canadian Multicultural Radio and Tamil Vision International Television, based in Canada.

Elders concerned over missing kids
New Delhi, February 20
The disappearance of more than 2,000 children from Delhi alone during the past one year found a loud echo in the Upper House yesterday. Several members supported the issue raised by a BJP member during the Zero Hour, fearing yet another Nithari in the making in the national Capital.

4 PLA activists arrested from Bangla border
Guwahati, February 20
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel manning the India-Bangladesh border in the east Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya apprehended four People’s Liberation Army (PLA) militants last night while they were trying to sneak into Indian territory from Bangladesh.





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No handshake for Jaya
Cong turns down Jaya’s advances
Says bond with DMK long lasting
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
The Congress party has declined AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s advances, saying that it preferred to stand by its present Tamil Nadu ally, the DMK.

The AIADMK chief on Thursday had urged the Congress to dump the DMK and join hands with her. “ The DMK is caught in a quagmire. No one can save it,” she had warned the Congress at a function in Chennai, adding that if the party stayed with the DMK it would too meet the same fate. However, making clear his party’s intentions, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed on Friday said the Congress alliance with the DMK would continue.

“We have an alliance with the DMK and we will stand by that…Our alliance with the DMK is very strong,” he said. Interpret the advances made by Jayalalithaa as a positive mood prevailing for the Congress in the country, Ahmed said, “There is goodwill for the Congress in the country. Many political parties would like to join hands with us. While some are not in a position to admit it, Jayalalithaa has shown the courage to say it openly.”

Political observers, however, feel the AIADMK chief’s intention was only to confuse the electorate in Tamil Nadu. “She is just trying to sow seeds of suspicion in the DMK against the Congress. Her attempt is to create confusion among the electorate that the present arrangement between the Congress and the DMK will collapse and the government will fall,” they said.

What has also given rise to speculations of a possible alliance between the Congress and the AIADMK is the return of senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in the AICC organisational set-up as the party general secretary.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister is said to share a good equation with the AIADMK chief. He has been made in charge of Tamil Nadu, giving rise to speculation of tie-up between the Congress and Jayalalithaa.

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Madras HC Violence
Lawyers hit TN streets, want DGP suspended
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 20
Lawyers throughout Tamil Nadu today hit streets with protest demonstrations, rallies and court boycotts demanding the suspension of police officials, including the DGP and Chennai police commissioner, for entering the Madras High Court and brutally attacking lawyers.

The effigies of Janata Party president Subtamanian Swamy, who filed a complaint alleging that a few lawyers pelted stones inside the court which triggered the violence, were also burnt. The lawyers also demanded the arrest of Swamy on a complaint filed by lawyers yesterday charging that he made derogatory comments against Dalit lawyers.

The entire High court complex here was fortified today with gun-wielding policemen. As the lawyers throughout the state had boycotted courts and holding protests, police protection was given to all courts in the state.

The lawyers said the decision to conduct a CBI probe into the incidents was only an eyewash. Last night, after the violence, a Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice S J Muhopadyaya, Justice K Chandru, V Dhanapalan, who took up the case, ordered a CBI probe into the incidents, after the Tamil Nadu government submitted that they were ready for such a probe.

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders as well as the PMK, a constituent of the UPA, today condemned the attacks on lawyers.

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa said the police attacked the judges, lawyers and the public on the court premises and smashed over 500 vehicles belonging to the lawyers and the public in blind fury.

MDMK leader Vaiko, who condemned the violence, said Chief Minister M Karunanidhi should resign and demanded the suspension of the DGP and the Chief Secretary. He also appealed to the Supreme Court to conduct a probe.

PMK leader S Ramadoss alleged that Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy had enacted a drama alleging that eggs were thrown on him inside the court a few days ago. The incidents beginning from his allegation should be probed, he said. He demanded the suspension of all police officials who were in the court complex, when the violence occurred and the State DGP.

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India flays Pak denial on Masood Azhar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee tonight hit out at Islamabad for denying the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar in Pakistan, who was very much there until recently.

“We are accustomed to these types of denials,” Mukherjee told mediapersons here when asked to comment on Pakistan Interior Adviser Rehman Malik’s claim that Azhar was not present in his country.

Mukherjee said India had “several times” got different information from Pakistani sources on Masood Azhar.

“We were told he (Azhar) is under house arrest. Thereafter, we were told he is not visible. I do not understand if somebody is not visible, how could he be under house arrest,” he said.

The minister said: “It is not unusual that these types of denials have come occasionally from Pakistani officials.”

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Row over promotion of ASC officers
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Promotion of officers in the Army Service Corps (ASC) has kicked up a controversy. The results of the Selection Board from Colonel to Brigadier have been held up for several months as a “debarred” officer was not only empanelled for consideration by the board, but also approved for promotion.

Sources in Army Headquarters revealed that a Colonel, who was facing a “Discipline and Vigilance Ban” for alleged professional impropriety, was considered for promotion by No.2 Service Selection Board in October. While the results of other arms and services were declassified last year, those of the ASC are still pending.

The matter of officer facing a ban came to light only when the files were routed to the Discipline and Vigilance (DV) Directorate for routine clearances following the board’s approval for promotions. Army officers said the very fact that an officer facing DV ban appearing before a selection board and getting approved was a reflection on the state of affairs in the services.

Consequently, the fate of about 26 officers is held in balance. This includes 14 officers from the 1983 batch and 12 other cases from previous batches that came up for review. The number of vacancies in the ASC at the Brigadier level is seven, which includes one recent addition following the implementation of the AV Singh Committee recommendations. The authorised strength of Brigadiers in the ASC is 40 and at the moment there are 34 officers in this rank. Two posts are falling vacant shortly.

The officer supposedly holding up the promotion results had faced administrative action and was awarded a severe displeasure for alleged financial misappropriation while he was commanding a unit in the northern sector. Thereafter in September, the DV Directorate placed him under a three-year ban for further promotions, decorations, foreign postings, etc.

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Key posts: Govt goes headhunting
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, February 20
With three months to go before it demits office, the UPA government is currently engaged in a frantic talent search for filling top official posts slated to fall vacant in the coming weeks.

The Centre has to pick successors for Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar, Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalswami whose tenures are drawing to a close. In addition, the ruling coalition has to appoint the RBI Deputy Governor and a member on the much sought-after National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The Capital’s bureaucratic circles are abuzz that Commerce Secretary GK Pillai, a 1972 batch officer of Kerala cadre, tops the list of contenders for the post of Cabinet Secretary although he is also being considered for the Home Secretary’s position.

Pillai, who has served as Joint Secretary in the ministry, has tough competition from Corporate Secretary Anurag Goel and Revenue Secretary PV Bhide. His wife, Labour Secretary Sudha Pillai, who also enjoys a formidable reputation, is among those in contention for one of the top slots.

After this government changed the rules, the Cabinet Secretary and Home Secretary get a two-year tenure.

While speculation on these posts is mounting, the Centre has cleared the air as far as the appointment of the next CEC is concerned. It is all set to reject CEC Gopalswami’s recommendation for the removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla and appoint him as the next Election Commission Chief.

Karnataka Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao is being tipped to be appointed as the third Election Commissioner after Chawla takes over as the CEC. Although the Centre considered several names for this crucial post, it was keen to find an officer who would continue in office till the next Lok Sabha election in 2014. Since Chawla and Election Commissioner SY Quraishi are from the North, the ruling coalition wanted the Southern states to be represented.

Besides being an upright and efficient officer, Rao is said to fill the bill on these two counts. Rao, who has had several stints at the Centre and was also in Rajiv Gandhi’s PMO, will take over as CEC from Quraishi when he retires in 2012.

UPA sources said the race for the RBI Deputy Governor is also heating up and the two names in reckoning are Bank of India CMD Narayanswamy and Punjab National Bank CMD KC Chakravarty.

As for the NHRC post, top contenders include former CBI directors PC Sharma and Vijay Shankar.

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PMO bills run into trouble
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
The government is in for major embarrassment, with two of its proposed legislations --- the SC/ST Reservation in Posts and Services Bill 2008 and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill --- running into rough weathers.

While the SC/ST Reservation Bill is being vehemently opposed by pro-Dalit parties and the BJP, the Left is strongly against the Prevention of Corruption Bill in its present form.

UPA sources said BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Susma Swaraj today met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, currently officiating in place of the Prime Minister, to apprise him of their objections to the bill. They accused the government of diluting certain provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act to shield the accused. The Left parties have also demanded several amendments to the said bill.

Ironically both bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha in December last amid din that prevented discussion on core issues. Now, they have returned to haunt the government, which may eventually be forced to sit over the proposed laws. Both these bills have been piloted for the first time by the Department of Personnel and Training under the PMO.

On the SC/ST bill, the BSP, BJP and RJD have made their offence public, with the former two parties even disrupting the question hour in Lok Sabha yesterday. It exempts 47 institutes of national importance from making SC/ST reservation in their faculties --- a matter which BSP chief Mayawati is threatening to make an election issue.

Buta Singh, chairperson of the National SCT/ST Commission is also learnt to have sought a Presidential reference in the matter. Besides, even HRD minister Arjun Singh is opposed to the “uncalled for exemptions in the bill.”

According to sources, under tremendous political pressure ahead of LS elections, the government may simply sit on the proposed controversial laws.

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Manipur Killings
DC, SP suspended for ‘dereliction’ of duty
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 20
Situation in curfew-bound Imphal and other parts of Manipur remained tense for the third consecutive day today in view of raging mass protest over killings of three government employees, including a sub-divisional officer (SDO) by unidentified assailants.

Thingam Kishan, SDO, of Kasom Khullen under Ukhrul district was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen along with his driver Aribam Rajen and revenue clerk Yumnam Token on February 14. Their bodies were recovered on Tuesday from an isolated area in Senapati district.

Three other persons abducted along with the SDO on that day were yet to be traced. They have been indentified as fourth grade employees Kapamkhui Zimik, Ramthing and Ramshing.

A special team of Manipur police led by an IGP is trying to track down the culprits. The government so far has remained tight-lipped over the identity of killers even as the needle of suspicion points towards Naga rebel group NSCN-IM. An official source in Imphal said the government hoped to nab at least one member of the group responsible for the abduction and murder. An inquiry committee, headed by two senior officials, agriculture commissioner O Nabakishore and IG (Intelligence) LM Khaute, has been constituted to look into the killings, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said in Imphal.

The state government today suspended Pankaj Pal, deputy commissioner of Ukhrul district and Superintendent of Police A Dorji for their alleged dereliction of duty in the wake of the killings of the government employees. The state government has decided to induct the wife of the slain SDO into Manipur Civil Service (MCS).

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Mulayam rules out truck with BJP
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 20
Refuting the charges that the Samajwadi Party (SP) general secretary Amar Singh was not capable of winning even a pradhan-level election, party president Mulayam Singh Yadav today declared that while Singh was keen to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, he was not in favour of it.

According to PTI, Mulayam, who had created a flutter two days ago by saying that his party would not mind tying up with the BJP if it gave up contentious issues like Ayodhya, today ruled out even remote chances of an alliance with the saffron party. “There is no question of an alliance between the SP and BJP,” he said.

Meanwhile, talking about Amar Singh during a press conference, Yadav said there were at least two constituencies in the state which were almost like pocket boroughs, where filling nomination papers and conducting a few meetings was enough for him to win and find entry into the Lok Sabha.

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Residents protest over child’s murder
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, February 20
Sikar town observed a complete bandh today in protest against the murder of a four-year-old boy whose body was found in a sewage drain late last evening. A different group of protesters hurled stones at the police in number of places forcing cops to retaliate with mild lathicharge.

Harshit, son of Pawan Gupta - a trader - was missing since February 9. A piece of cloth was found wrapped around his neck suggesting he was strangled. The family had not received any ransom call. Residents demanded suspension of police officers that were handling the investigation.

Pawan Gupta said his son was last seen with some schoolmates, in a play ground near the house. They claimed Harshit had gone home. The investigation had drawn flak as teams were dispatched in his search all over the state, but the body was found in the town only.

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Veteran journalist Amita Malik dead

New Delhi, February 20
Veteran journalist and film and media critic Amita Malik died in New Delhi on Friday. She was 86.

Often described as the “first lady of Indian journalism”, Malik was known for her comprehensive and incisive interviews of celebrities. She had interviewed stars like Satyajit Ray, Marlon Brando, David Niven and Alfred Hitchcock in a career spanning over five decades.

She began as a freelance journalist for The Statesman, which was then edited by Evan Charlton, a British journalist. She also reviewed films. — IANS

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SC no to tabling of Godhra report in Parliament
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 20
The Centre today approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to table in Parliament the Justice UC Banerjee Committee report on Godhra fire, but the apex court directed the Gujarat High Court to dispose of a similar plea pending with it in six weeks.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan issued the direction after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam sought its permission for making public the report on the February 27, 2002, incident involving the Sabarmati Express. The report had held the fire was accidental.

The ASG said the committee had been appointed with cabinet approval. The Centre’s petition also questioned the delay in the HC for adjudicating its request for presenting the final committee report in the Parliament. As many as 59 ‘kar sevaks’ were burnt alive and 24 sustained injuries in the fire in coach S-6 of the train. While Justice Nanavati Commission was inquiring into the incident and the riots that followed, the Railway Ministry headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav appointed Justice Banerjee Committee to go into the train tragedy. The government's move to table the report in Parliament earlier had been stalled by Nilkanth Tulsidas Bhatia, a passenger in the coach, who had obtained a stay order from the Gujarat High Court.

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SC tells Rajastahan
Close down illegal mines in Aravallis
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 20
The Supreme Court today directed the Rajasthan government to act on the report of the Forest and Environment Ministry on illegal mining in the Aravalli Hills and close down all such mines. The state government has also been told to file a compliance report within three weeks.

The forest bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and SH Kapadia asked Rajasthan counsel Dr Manish Singhvi to ensure compliance after Amicus Curiae contended that large-scale illegal mining was going on.

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Media panel condemns attacks on journalists
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
The South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) has said it is saddened at the killing of a Tamil journalist, Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy, who was working for Canadian Tamil Radio, Canadian Multicultural Radio and Tamil Vision International Television, based in Canada.

He was killed on February 12 during a Sri Lankan Air force raid in Thevipuram in the Vanni region, where the security situation has deteriorated due to the fight between the Army and the LTTE.

The second killing after Lasantha Vikramatunga in 2009 is a clear-cut sign of a rapidly worsening situation, said N Ram and Najam Sethi, chairman and secretary-general of the SAMC.

They expressed their shock at the air raids in the civilian areas, targeting innocent people and journalists.

The SAMC office-bearers said: “We cannot rule out the possibility that it was a targeted killing and demand an independent inquiry into the motive.”

Sri Lanka, already declared as one of the dangerous countries, is now becoming a “no-go area” where journalists are killed and attacked by both the army and the LTTE to silence their dissenting voices.

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Elders concerned over missing kids
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
The disappearance of more than 2,000 children from Delhi alone during the past one year found a loud echo in the Upper House yesterday. Several members supported the issue raised by a BJP member during the Zero Hour, fearing yet another Nithari in the making in the national Capital.

Taking up the issue, Prabhat Jha of the BJP said the children could have been abducted for the purpose of organ-sale or child trafficking. He, however, refused to see any merit in the claim made by the police that there was some love-angle to the missing of children.

“I fail to see what kind of a love angle would a seven or a eight-year-old child be possibly involved in,” Jha said, adding that it was a matter of concern when 550 children had gone missing from the north-east district, 350 from the west district, 289 from the outer district and 222 from the north-west. In all, as many as 2,506 children had gone missing from the Capital in the past one year, he added.

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4 PLA activists arrested from Bangla border
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 20
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel manning the India-Bangladesh border in the east Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya apprehended four People’s Liberation Army (PLA) militants last night while they were trying to sneak into Indian territory from Bangladesh.

The BSF also apprehended a Bangladeshi national Khalif Miya (50), a trans-border courier for PLA cadres. Six mobile handsets with two Indian and one Bangladeshi SIM cards and Rs 33,160 were seized from their possession.

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